Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Nubian Desert Treasures Part 2

As promised, I am posting again about our trip into the desert last week. Thanks to all who visited my blog yesterday and your kind comments. See yesterday's post here . I thought I'd add a little information on the Meroe pyramids to answer some of the questions posed on my post. Below is a photo of pyramid;  only one. Promise!

The Kush Kingdom flourished for 900 hundred years from around 800 B.C. to 280 A.D. and held power over a vast area covering much of the Nile Delta and as far south as Khartoum. Meroe became very important as the Kingdom's center from around 300 B.C. to 280 A.D. Egyptian influence remained strong and Egyptian artisans were used to build the Meroe Pyramids to commemorate dead royalty. The dead were buried in chambers underneath the pyramids. (Source Internet)

I also said yesterday that when you visit the pyramids you have the whole place to yourself. Well we did. But as we returned to the entrance, we met six people who'd come to see the pyramids. According to the registration plates of their vehicles parked beside ours, they were diplomats visiting/from Khartoum. They were not at all friendly. I.e. they didn't return our greeting. We find this rather strange here in the Sudan. Grant and I are very keen to meet other people, but so far not one of the expats we've come across in the city, has been responsive to our effusive greetings.  

Above are some very young vendors touting curios (hand- made replicas of the pyramids and wooden daggers)  and jewelry

Above are several bracelets and a necklace which Grant bought from the young lads Everything costs SDG10/US$4.16 each. Each boy shouted the price out in English and begged me to buy from him.  
This dear vendor above was my favourite. Grant bought two old coins from him (SDG10 each!) . I noticed the string instrument and asked him what it is called. He said it is a qanun. He then played a tune for me. What a lovely man

Over the weekend Grant took out his electrolosis machine, made a concoction of lemon juice, bicarb and water in a glass, conducted the coins to a teaspoon by means of a wire and set the process on the go. (Note: I may be wrong about all the items used in his electrolosis process! LOL!) After much scrubbing and rinsing smelly black stuff off the coins in the kitchen sink, using the kitchen sponge, the coins emerged as above. The hexaganol coin has the numeral 50 on it while the round coin has a ten on it. Coins in the Sudan are called piastres, even today.

The photo above shows the reverse of the two coins Grant bought, plus an oldish coin he found in the apartment. The coin on the right shows a camel and its rider. It also shows the date 1907. The coin on the left has a bank building on it which matches the bank building on the coin at bottom. Grant had such fun cleaning these coins that he wants to return to the Meroe pyramids just to buy more coins from the old vendor!

After we'd had lunch in the desert (More coffee and salad-stufffed pitas), I walked a fair distance to the powerlines above. I, of course, wanted to photograph them. (What else?) I spent quite a while doing this, that Grant packed the Landcruiser and drove across the flats to fetch me. As he stopped he said: "You are not supposed to be photographing powerlines" (Quite nervous about the law, my hubby!)  I told him that our permits stated "no photos of powerline stations" and in any event, I said I didn't think we'd be accosted by an official of the Sudanese electricity board at this particular location, miles fom anyhere in the middle of the desert, and if we were, I'd show them not one but TWO photo permits. He just sighed and said I always have an anwer for everything . LOL!  

While I was snapping the powerlines, a trio of donkeys approached me. I took many photos of them. The middle one, who seemed to be quite a youngster, was most inquisitive and came so close to me I could almost touch him. I will post more photos of donkeys (which I'm sure you know by now, that I love) in a later post.

This rocky outcrop reminded me of the World's View, the Matopos Hills in Zimbabwe (which is the burial place of Cecil John Rhodes) So I took a photo to remind me of my home country when I was a child - the then Southern Rhodesia 

Acacia sieberiana DC. var. woodii. These beautifully shaped paper bark thorn trees with their perfectly flattened crowns, growing in amongst the rocky outcrops,  are quite stunning. Where else but in Africa would you encounter such a sight? I have a paper bark thorn in my garden at home in SA

Lunch in the desert, was every bit as enjoyable as our early morning coffee (mentioned in yesterday's post) was. Of course, the Landcruiser is not only a tough 4x4, high clearance vehicle with extra large tyres, it also has a built-in camping table when you have nothing else! Don't you just love the vista stretching out behind my darling hubby?

I was fascinated by the black rocks on the mountains. Grant maintains that the harsh weather and extreme heat has caused these rocks to crack up and darken. Any geologists out there have an opinion? Gaelyn, what do you think?

I photographed this chunk of black rock at the pyramid site. This is what the mountains (as photographed above) consist of. Once again, I thought of my dear blogger friend, Gaelyn when I zoomed in on this "nugget"

Yesterday I posted a similar photo (taken with my Sony camera) of the baby camels in transit, This photo was taken with my Canon Powershot so I managed to get a close - up. (We were travelling behind this truck, so getting a clear photo was tricky, but I did, didn't I? ) Aren't they just the cutest ever?

Each village we passed, had a mosque dominating the scene. There are many shapes and sizes Khartoum and in the desert we were not disappointed either.  One village had two mosques which looked just like space rockets. And they were painted silver .

There are a multitude of road trains on the highway between Khartoum and Port Sudan (which is the country's only port of entry) Even though we travelled on Friday, which is Sunday in the Sudan, we had traffic like this all the way up and back again

If you get behind a row of road trains (here we were overtaking five at once with three more up ahead) you can wait for ages to be able to pass them. This  is only a single carriageway highway. Only in Africa!

One heavy vehicle overtaking another. This is a scary sight when you see them coming up ahead!

Add to the dangerous mix, dozens of tour busses which local people use from khartoum to the villages and vice versa. These busses go at full speed and if you have one overtaking the other in the oncoming traffic, its wisest to get out of their way and take to the desert !

Not to be left out, the donkey also travels on the highway and has the right of way

I was fascinated (doesn't take much to keep me amused, does it, LOL!) by the hundreds up hundreds of shredded tyres lining each side of the highway. Grant explained the the trucks lose many tyres due to the heat. And sure enough, no sooner had he told me this, that we passed a stationery truck. The driver was changing a tyre. There also tyre suppiers in many villages along the highway. I imagine they do a roaring trade, especially in summer!

Friday afternoon, and we re-enter Khartoum. What a lovely day out in the desert.

I hope you enjoyed the trip with me as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you.

For more beautiful worlds, click here

The Arabic for highway is Ţryq Sryʻ (pronounced trick-siree)
The Arabic for [road] traffic is Ḩrkh al-Mrwr ( literally traffic of the road - pronounced Harrukka a mirwa)


  1. I enjoyed the virtual tour and all the great photos. It gives me a sense of the countryside where you are.

  2. What an interesting trip and great photos of it. Thanks for sharing.

    Darryl and Ruth : )

  3. Jo I so enjoyed this trip into the desert and pyramids. The rock looks mostly like sandstone so Grant is probably right about the mineral staining. Yet that one dark rock makes me wonder if there is any volcanics in the area.

    Thanks for thinking of me. But I'm not a geologist.

  4. What's so amazing with travelling around Sudan is that you can be driving through the desert for hours on end, and then suddenly, just behind that big rock, lies lush green fields and plants.

    Much is to say about Sudan, but it never sizes to amaze me. Keep on writing and I'll stop buy once in a while : )

  5. Hello Jo. Wow what an adventure.
    Thank you for taking us there.
    BTW I like the template.

    Enjoy the rest of the week.

  6. Wow, what a great adventure! Beautiful photos. Love those bracelets. Thank you for sharing information about the place. I learn something today

  7. Very interesting again. The jewelry is quiet expensive if it's not silver and not semi precious stones, but at least good for the boys, lol ! I bought a lot of jewelry in Egypt over the years and almost became an expert. They also have piastres. The once you bought look very interesting.
    You really had a great trip out there ! Can't understand unfriendly tourists !

  8. This is fascinating, Jo, seeing a part of the world I've never seen before.The baby camels are so cute. They didn't look stressed about theri cramped conditions.

    Some entrepeneur could probably make a good living gathering up old tires and recycling them--grinding up the rubber for re-use in paving highways. That's done here in the US. They also use ground up tires for rubberized athletic tracks and playgrounds.

    Very interesting and informative post, Jo!

  9. Uitstekend geskryf, Jo!! Elke foto vertel 'n storie!

    Daardie munte lyk baie interessant -weet jy hoe oud is daardie munte wat jul gekoop het? En om dit skoon te maak deur elektrolise - slim gedink, Grant!

  10. Another wonderful post Jo. I think those diplomat's were extremely rude!!

    What a perfect place for morning coffee. I hope you remembered the rusks too? :)

  11. I've been enthralled by your last 3posts, Jo (including your 'Silly Photo's' & post above - they were great !) It is so nice to see a side to/part of the Sudan that I was not even aware of ... how odd that the fellow expat's there are so unfriendly. (Now, if Ivan & I lived there near you ...... !)P.S. Having internet problems here and have been for several days now - apparently due to bad weather in Germany blocking our signal ! xx

  12. What a trip! I enjoyed coming along.
    The pyramid and all the vendors were fascinating. Love the donkey photos.


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo